i drank while grandpa died

I am 16 years old

my family gathers together

at my grandparents’ home

my father’s brothers and sisters

all of them present:

 

the manic depressive

the obsessive compulsive

the one on pills

the one who needs pills

the divorced and eccentric

all of them gathered together

to watch my grandfather die

 

he’s been dying for months

his skin has turned yellow

lost so much weight

the man I knew as a bull

is wasting away

and so they gather

to watch him die

upstairs

 

downstairs

I seclude myself

away from the heart ache

my grandfather’s bar is down there

I look at the myriad of bottles

and I wonder

what does it feel like to be drunk?

I want to know

so I grab one

 

I pour a shot down my throat

it burns

saliva pours over my lips

I drool, swallow, drool

I breathe

not bad

 

the second goes down easier

the fourth, the sixth

fingers begin to tingle

skin feels numb

stagger when I walk

am I drunk yet?

 

eight straight shots

nine

ten

is this what it feels like?

 

I gag a couple of times

still up, still walking

I think I’m drunk now

twelve shots and drunk

I must be a man

 

rejoin my family upstairs

we depart soon after

I make it all the way home

barely talking

no one else talks

(because grandpa is dying)

 

through the front door

run to the bathroom

vomit rockets forth into the sink

Are you sick?” my mother asks

I’m feeling sick”, I say

I should go to bed” I say

 

laying in bed

room is spinning

skin tingles numb

my sister comes into the dark room

places a bucket beside my bed

In case you need it,” she says

she knew all along

the only one who did

 

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